• State Underground Power Program

    The State Underground Power Program (the Program) is an initiative that replaces overhead power lines in established areas with underground power infrastructure.  The Program is a partnership between the Government of Western Australia, Western Power and local governments. Funding for projects is shared between program partners.

    Objectives

    The objectives of the Program are to:

    • improve reliability and security of electricity supply for consumers;
    • enhance streetscapes and visual amenity;
    • reduce street tree maintenance costs for local governments;
    • improve street lighting and community safety; and
    • reduce maintenance costs for Western Power.

    Background

    The Program was established in 1996 to improve the reliability of electricity supply, after a severe storm in 1994 caused major disruptions in Perth and southern parts of Western Australia. Western Power later reported that 80 per cent of the power failures could be attributed to trees and branches falling on power lines.

    The Program has operated successfully since its inception, and about 55 per cent of houses in the Perth metropolitan area now have underground power. While property developers must underground electricity supply in new sub-divisions, about 370,000 homes in Perth and 90,000 homes in regional urban areas are still connected to Western Power’s overhead distribution system.

    The Program is very popular with local governments, and projects are awarded through competitive rounds similar to a public tender (subject to a budget for each funding round).

    Eighty-five projects have been completed under the Program, providing underground distribution connections to over 86,000 properties.

    Delivery

    The Underground Power Steering Committee (comprising representatives from the Department of Finance, the Western Australian Local Government Association and Western Power) is responsible for managing the Program, including evaluating project proposals. The Program has two project delivery streams: Major Residential Projects and Localised Enhancement Projects.

    • Major Residential Projects aim to improve the reliability of electricity supplies, predominantly in residential areas (typically 500 to 1,300 allotments per project).
    • Localised Enhancement Projects aim to beautify urban gateways, scenic routes and tourism/heritage centres (particularly in regional towns). These projects are smaller than major residential projects.

    Funding Round Six for Major Residential Projects

    On 27 January 2017, the Minister for Energy in the former government announced the 17 projects selected for the sixth funding round of the Program (Round Six). This followed an announcement, on 12 November 2015, of changes to project selection criteria and funding arrangements for Round Six of the Program.

    For Round Six of the Program, project ranking and selection was based on a weighted score between zero and 100 points, comprised of:

    • Western Power’s network priorities contributing up to 50 points to the ranking score of a project;
    • local government contributions above 50 per cent of total project cost contributing up to 25 points to the project ranking score;  and
    • results from a community support survey above a threshold of 50 per cent support contributing up to 25 points to the project ranking score.

    The project selection process used in Round Six will assist in increasing the network security improvements delivered by the Program. It will also better align funding contribution shares with the proportionate benefits received by Program participants.

    The selected projects are:

    Round Six
    Local Government Major Residential Projects
    Town of Cambridge Floreat West; Floreat North; Floreat East
    City of Melville Kardinya South; Alfred Cove East; Melville North
    City of South Perth South Perth; Collier; Manning
    Town of Victoria Park Victoria Park West; Victoria Park East; Carlisle North
    City of Stirling Trigg; Menora
    City of Bayswater Maylands Central
    City of Cockburn South Lake East
    City of Canning Shelley West

    For further information, refer to the Fact Sheet, the Round Six guidelines and the Summary of Proposal Evaluation Scores and Survey Results under Related Documents.

    The Public Utilities Office and Western Power will work with local governments to implement the selected projects over the next four years.

    Enquiries about the projects should be directed to the relevant local government.

    Contact

    Mark Thompson, Policy and Research Officer, Public Utilities Office
    Phone: (08) 6551 4709

    Pat Smith, Principal Project Officer, Public Utilities Office
    Phone: (08) 6551 4733

    Email: supp.executiveofficer@finance.wa.gov.au

    Last reviewed: 18 May 2017